CHAMPIONS! #2 NSU Wins Tennis National Championship

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – For the first time in program history, the Nova Southeastern Sharks Women’s Tennis team reigns as NCAA Division II National Champions. The second-ranked Sharks upended Sunshine State Conference rival and six-time defending national champion No. 1 Barry University 4-2 in a highly competitive match that spanned nearly four hours on Friday afternoon. The Sharks set the program record for wins in a single season (27) with the victory. 

The women’s tennis national championship marks the 13th NCAA Division II national title Nova Southeastern Athletics has earned in departmental history. 

Records: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 27-4 | No. 1 Barry 23-5
Score: No. 2 Nova Southeastern 4 | No. 1 Barry 2
Location: Sanlando Park | Altamonte Springs, Fla. 
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How it Happened
Starting with doubles action, Natalie Espinal and Freya Davies – the second-ranked doubles tandem in Division II – defeated No. 34 Dinara Alloiarova and Viktoriaa Dema 6-3. The Buccaneers followed by winning the remaining doubles matches, taking a 1-0 lead in the national championship match. 

The match shifted to singles competition, Freya Davies tied the match at 1-1 with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Ailen Crespo. Natalie Espinal – the ITA Senior Player of the Year – gave Nova Southeastern a 2-1 lead in the match with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Alina Michalitsch. Barry was able to tie the match with their second, but final, point of the match as Alexandra Weir fell versus Viktoriia Dema in three sets (6-1, 3-6, 4-6). Sofia Shing shifted the momentum back in the Sharks favor, beating Angela Leweurs 6-3, 6-3. Lian Benedejcic – court four – and Ita Habekovic – court six – remained as Nova Southeastern needed just one more match point for the national championship victory.

Benedejcic, after dropping the first set to Dinara Alloiarova, responded with a second-set win in a tiebreaker (4-6, 7(8)-6(6)). Habekovic fell versus Clara Versier in the first-set, but battled back into the match with a win in the second. Habekovic took complete command of the decisive third-set, leading 5-2, but Versier responded with a pair of point wins, putting the score 5-4. With the match point tied at 40-40, Habekovic and Versier rallied back-and-forth, but Versier’s final attempt went long, ending Barry’s six-year championship run, as the Nova Southeastern Sharks Women’s Tennis team became NCAA Division II National Champions for the first-time in program history. 

What's Next
The NCAA National Championship victory concludes the 2024 season for the Nova Southeastern Sharks Women’s Tennis team. 

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